Search called off for missing Sanger Navy crewman

FRESNO, Calif.

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Sean Snyder is the final missing crewman in the chopper crash in the Atlantic. He was born and raised in Sanger and still has strong Valley ties.

Navy officials released new details in a press conference in Virginia. A spokesperson said it is possible the missing pilot, could be with the bulk of the aircraft in the ocean. We have also learned the five sailors on board may have known there was a problem before the chopper crashed.

For 24 hours rescue crews circled the area 20 miles from Virginia Beach for the last missing crewman aboard the 34 ton helicopter when it plunged into the ocean about 11 a.m. Wednesday.

About an hour after the crash, four other crewmen were found close to the floating wreckage and hoisted from the water, two did not survive, two others are in the hospital recovering.

Sean Snyder is a helicopter pilot according to family members and friends. He was born and raised in Sanger but moved away to pursue a career in the Navy.

Matt Scheiner went to school and church with Sean when they were growing up. He worried when he heard about the crash.

Scheiner said, "When I saw on the news this morning that a chopper went down in Virginia and I know that's where he is based, I was hoping, I just had a split second thought that I hope it's not Sean's chopper."

Investigators say the fuselage and tail section have been located with the help of side scan radar equipment. There is some indication the crew was aware of a mechanical problem. A distress call went out from the aircraft 15 minutes before the crash. Searches for Snyder in the air and at sea were called off late Thursday.

Navy Commander Todd Flannery said, "Today has definitely been a hard day on all of us."

Several family members and friends from the Valley have flown to Virginia to be with Snyder's wife and children.

For Scheiner, knowing his friend had a strong faith foundation is comforting. Although the two lost contact over the years, a few months ago they reconnected on the internet.

Scheiner explained, "Recently we became friends on Facebook and did a little small talk messaging and I was real proud of him that, to see how far he went in the Navy and what he made of himself."

Snyder was wearing a dry suit when the chopper went down. The water temperature is around 40 degrees and according to experts he would need to be rescued within a few hours.

Family members we reached said they are waiting before they comment. They are shocked and very sad.

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